“The campus is total hell for people in a wheelchair,” explained Kyra. Not one single educational building is accessible. The only place she can enter without problem is the Food Plaza. “I’ve been emailing the university all these years. Doors that are too heavy, obstacles I can’t get over; I’ve told them everything. Sometimes they send a reply that they’ll get back to me, sometimes they just say that the adaptations would cost around 1500 euros and it’s too expensive for such a small group.”
Kyra was so tired of it that she sent a long email to Rector Magnificus Annelien Bredenoord two weeks ago. She listed the problems she encounters every day: inaccessible buildings and spaces, pavements that are too steep, lifts out of order for long periods and a bureaucratic organisation that rarely takes her complaints seriously, let alone resolves them.
Student Kyra: ‘The campus is a veritable hell for people in wheelchairs’
Kyra usually gets around in a wheelchair. But campus Woudestein is so inaccessible that…
Centre of Expertise for Inclusive Education
It is remarkable that Kyra is speaking out about this, stated Elke van Doorn from the Centre of Expertise for Inclusive Education (ECIO). This organisation is working for inclusive education and advises and supports educational institutions in this. Van Doorn thinks that it’s important that students like Kyra speak out about how inaccessible their education is for them. “There are still so many improvements to be made in both existing and new buildings.”
Van Doorn also sees educational institutions, including Erasmus University, working hard to make education more accessible. But they don’t always manage this. “If students need to enter a building via a side or rear entrance, they’re being treated differently. And that’s not allowed according to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Everyone should be able to enter via the same main entrance.”
Van Doorn does have tips for Erasmus University. “Wednesday is the launch of a network for increased physical accessibility in higher education. Institutions can learn from each other in this network.” Van Doorn mentions Eindhoven University of Technology as a good example. “They took a tour of the campus with students who have various impairments. They noted all the issues they face and these are being examined by a working group. That’s the second tip as this shows you where you need to make improvements.”
Despite several requests, the Executive Board has not answered Erasmus Magazine’s questions. Rector Magnificus Annelien Bredenoord has, however, sent Kyra a personal response.